KALAMAZOO, Mich. — How do you open a new business during a pandemic? And the store is dedicated to a single, not-entirely proven concept?
Ask Jessica Thompson about it.
First, the concept: A store whose entire inventory is eco-friendly products. Not just items that are kind of eco-friendly. Thompson’s store has no plastic. They don’t even sell plastic gift cards. Instead, they sell ecards that you use at checkout.
Bee Joyful is Thompson’s brainchild, and she has carried it through to where you can bring in your own bottle and fill it up at the Refill Station, which has a whole line-up of liquid home products.
Her first product was food wraps that replace your standard plastic wrap. “You warm it up with your hands to mold it around cups or bowls or plates or your sandwich or fruits and vegetables. It keeps your food fresher longer,” Thompson explains. They are washable, last about a year, and then can be composted.
Now, about opening a new business during a pandemic. For this one, Thompson tells us she listened to her kids.
The store was due to open in early April, but the pandemic shutdown beat them by about two weeks. “So I was home with all of the kids,” says Thompson. “We were kind of doing schoolwork, we were kind of staying up late. We were definitely on social media and TikTok. And my teenager said, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom, you should go on TikTok for the business. I've seen some things on there. I think it'd be really cool.’”
And her TikTok posts began generating sales.
“And then, when we were finally able to open, we had people from all over the place coming in.” They had seen the TikTok videos and found them not only entertaining but educational.
" And Holy cow, what West Michigan showed up.”
Bee Joyful web site (Most items sold out temporarily, but you can buy ecards.
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